“My question is: Are we going to get a step-in, pass rusher this year, like a Greg Hardy? We can probably get him for cheap anyway, we dealt with worse people and made it ok!!”
The question is great because so many Dallas Cowboy fans are missing the pass rush threat that was anchored by DeMarcus Ware for so many years. The team responded, in part, by drafting DeMarcus Lawrence with their 2014 second round pick. Lawrence showed promise once he returned from his injury late in the season, but the pass rush issue is far from resolved. The pressure from Marinelli’s Maulers was just a click short more often than not. The front seven seemed to be a split-second late getting to the opposing quarterback. That left the linebackers and secondary vulnerable and exposed at times. That’s a concern that we’ll surely see addressed in the upcoming NFL Draft and the remaining free-agency period.
The solution is debatable because success can be achieved by “right” lineman, linebacker or defensive back. It can also come from this very young defensive core of players entering their 2nd and 3rd years of Marinelli’s rotational system. All told, there are 16 defensive linemen (including NT Ken Bishop) on the Dallas Cowboys payroll. Personally, I agree with Donnie on his approach to this … defensive lineman. But, is Greg Hardy the best solution? Continue reading →
IRVING, Texas – In Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys believe they have one of the best coaches in the NFL.
It appears he might be a pretty good recruiter, too.
The Cowboys’ ability to land free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton was a lot about the contract, a lot about Melton possibly wanting to play at home, and a lot about Marinelli.
“I’m excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form,” Melton told Calvin Watkins.
Melton developed into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle under Marinelli with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12. Melton had 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl after a six-sack season in 2012. He also had 71 tackles and nine tackles for loss with Marinelli as his mentor.
He might talk softly, but Marinelli has a way of forging relationships with defensive linemen. He did it with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did it with Melton and Julius Peppers with the Bears. He did it with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were forced to use 20 defensive linemen in 2013 and were one game away from making the playoffs. Marinelli was able to make it work to a certain degree with guys such as George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Jarius Wynn, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse.
Mincey was coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars by Joe Cullen, who coached under Marinelli with the Detroit Lions.
“Genuine and a believer,” Mincey said last week. “He believes in what I believe: Going out there and giving your all and trusting the process and seeing what happens. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a bunch of guys who are hungry, who are dedicated and motivated for a larger purpose.”
The job is not over. The Dallas Cowboys concluded a visit with Jared Allen today and the veteran could be the next one added to the Marinelli mix.
THE TRUE BLUE ROSTER TEST: Name all ten of the Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen currently on the roster | Special Feature
Do you know who they do have?
Hint: There are currently 10 defensive linemen under contract.
Another Hint: Three of them are defensive tackles and seven are defensive ends.
How many can you name off the top of your head?
STOP READING NOW AND THINK ABOUT IT …
THE ANSWERS ARE BELOW … NO PEEKING!!!
And? Maybe Ben Bass?
FOUR TO GO …
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
The 10 defensive linemen currently on the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys roster have combined to play in 268 games, making 457 tackles and 39.5 sacks. Ware and Hatcher combined to play 260 games with 779 tackles and 144 sacks.
Editors note: This post inspired by Charean Williams of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Current Dallas Cowboy unrestricted free agents Anthony Spencer, Edgar Jones, and Jarius Wynn are not included in this count … but you get bonus points for naming them!
True Blues, keep up with the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys roster 2014-2015 right here, on The Boys Are Back
ROAD TO THE 2014 NFL DRAFT: Senior Bowl 2014 | NFC Championship Game should help steer 2014 Dallas Cowboys draft
Most of the Dallas Cowboys brass arrived in Mobile, Ala. for the 2014 Senior Bowl on Monday.
We’d like to think Jerry Jones and the team’s front-office personnel was watching closely when the 49ers and Seahawks slugged it out for the NFC Championship the night before.
During the game, it was pretty clear what needs to be done in the upcoming draft and even free agency.
Actually, it has been clear to everyone just by watching the Dallas Cowboys 2013 regular season.
This team needs Dee-fense. And plenty of it.
It’s not just because they were the worst in the NFL and worst in team history. Those are reasons enough to go draft defense in the first three to four rounds. This team needs a defensive tackle, a pass-rusher, an outside linebacker and a safety. And a good cornerback wouldn’t hurt either – you can never have too many.
After watching the 49ers and Seahawks it was very clear that the Cowboys have plenty of offense to win a Super Bowl. Sure, there are some natural improvements that need to be made, but that’s with any team.
The direction the offensive line is going is very positive and the running game went from a liability early in the year, to average by the middle of the season to pretty much becoming a team-strength by seasons’ end.
People love what the 49ers and Seahawks did to get young, athletic and cheap (for now) quarterbacks. But they can do that because they’ve got a defense and running game to lean on.
Russell Wilson is a good, young quarterback, but he fell into the perfect situation for him. I don’t think he could go win the game if he was on the Bucs or the Browns or even the Cowboys. Russell Wilson had the No. 1 defense in the NFL on the other side. Imagine if he had the worst.
Ask yourself if you’d rather have Wilson and the Cowboys’ team or Romo and the Seahawks’ team. Do the same with the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick. That one might actually be a little different because there are some fans who wouldn’t mind seeing Kaepernick in Dallas.
Either way, the point is that if those teams can get to the Super Bowl – or really close – with that type of offense, the Dallas Cowboys can do that as well.
Just give them some help on defense.
Those defenses are nasty. The only thing nasty about the Dallas Cowboys defense is the stats and the yards it gives up.
The front four of the 49ers or Seahawks, you’ll see brute strength that seems missing with other squads, particularly this one here in Dallas. You don’t see arms and triceps like you see with those teams and players.
That was a very physical football game and we knew it would be. Jason Pierre-Paul said something about blood being shed in the Cowboys-Giants game back in late November. But that one had nothing on this past battle between the 49ers and Seahawks, which has arguably become the best rival in football right now.
The Cowboys are going to keep all of their defensive assistants. That’s what’s coming out of Mobile this week at the 2014 Senior Bowl.
Monte Kiffin is returning for his second year, at least give him some help. You can draft defense in the first three picks, if not four or five and you’d be OK.
The only exception I could see to that is taking an offensive guard in the first round. That would be the only position to consider with that 16th or 17th pick. Guards have good value there and you’ve seen the benefits of taking Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick early and really building something from the ground up.
Dallas can get by with Ron Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau, and maybe Brian Waters if he decides to come back. But you can’t get by with plucking guys off their couch and into the defensive-line rotation.
If Sunday’s game in Seattle showed us anything, it’s that defense really does win championships – at least conference ones. But it also showed this offense is plenty good enough to win.
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said he’s been outfitted with a neck brace that will reduce the chance he gets another stinger. It’s so restrictive, it keeps him from moving his neck back.
“I can’t even see in my stance, hardly,” he said Thursday, smiling about it with reporters. “I have to get down super low.”
But he said he’ll take part of the brace off down the line so he can have more range of movement.
“I’ll take that off eventually, in about three or four weeks from now, I’ll take that off so I can get my neck back,” he said.
Hatcher was limited again in practice Thursday. The native of Jena, La., missed the New Orleans game two weeks ago because of a stinger.
“That hurt me bad, just going home to my home state and not being able to help my team,” he said. “I’m not saying the outcome would have been different or whatnot, but I’m pretty sure knowing me, a healthy me, I could have done some stuff to help my team. So I’m excited to be back, just excited to see how this game is going to go for me, as well as my team.”
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant is once again working through a back issue, but it didn’t keep him out of todays morning practice.
Bryant was present for the second practice of the week, and he appeared to move well in the early portion of the day’s work. It remains to be seen how involved he will be in the full day’s worth of work, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he doesn’t expect the injury to have a significant effect.
“His back was bothering him (Wednesday), we didn’t think he could practice so we didn’t practice him,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his Thursday morning press conference. “It’s a health issue that we don’t think is a long-term deal at all. Hopefully he’ll practice today and be ready to go on Sunday.”
Back problems affected Bryant during the 2012 season finale against Washington, and he has dealt with similar problems at times through the first nine weeks of this season.
“It’s bothered him a little bit off and on – I don’t know if it’s the exact same thing, but we don’t think it’s a significant deal.”
IRVING, Texas – There’s not going to be a dramatic game time decision this week –DeMarcus Ware is playing Sunday in New Orleans.
If Ware’s participation in the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday and Thursday practices wasn’t indication enough, the All-Pro defensive end said so himself outside the Dallas locker room.
It’s been roughly a month since Ware left Dallas’ Oct. 13 win against Washington early with a quad injury. His absence – three games’ worth – has to feel like an eternity for a player who had never missed a game prior to this season.
“You get frustrated, but you’ve got to find some type of positive note,” Ware said. “For me, watching the game from the sideline was a little bit different. I see how guys attack us and how they attack me in certain situations, and it’ll make me better coming in this week.”
The parallels to the Cowboys’ last trip to New Orleans couldn’t be more obvious. Four years ago, the Cowboys limped into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with an 8-5 record, having lost two straight, to play an undefeated Saints squad.
To make matters worse, Ware had suffered what appeared to be a devastating injury in San Diego just a week prior. Ware wasn’t just doubtful for the tilt against Drew Brees and Co. – he was doubtful, period.
“I didn’t think I was going to play for a long time, until – sometimes, when you go in certain places, you get certain vibes or you feel a certain way that you can do it,” he said. “And I think you get confidence from your teammates to get out there and play. That’s the way I felt – not letting them down.”
Of course, Ware didn’t just wind up playing – he starred. He sacked Brees twice, pressured him three times and forced two fumbles, the second of which ended New Orleans’ hope of a comeback. The Cowboys used the win to catapult to a 11-5 record and their most recent playoff appearance.
“I think how monumental that game was – it was a big game for us. It was like one of those turn-around-season games,” Ware said. “It was one of those type of things where it was like ‘OK, it’s a blessing to be out here again, from what I went through.”
Brees certainly hasn’t forgotten, and it’s not just the 2009 game, either. In four career meetings against the Saints, Ware has notched 10 tackles, four sacks, one tackle for loss, four quarterback hits and the aforementioned two forced fumbles.
Those aren’t the type of numbers the opposing quarterback is likely to forget.
“He’s a stud – he’s such a stud,” Brees said. “He’s a guy you’ve got to have a plan for at all times – where is he, how do you protect him, how are you taking care of him and all that stuff. You know the leadership he brings, you know the productivity he brings, and he’s just a game changer. You’ve just got to be ready for him.”
The ideal scenario is a return to typical form, but it remains to be seen how effective Ware can be when he does return. His worst outing against the Saints came in last season’s overtime loss, when he was hampered by injuries.
Ware knows he has some catching up to do once he does return. He recorded all four of his sacks this season in just two of his six appearances, and problems with stingers bothered him in those outings.
The result is that he’s tied for just 37th in the league in sacks – a good bit off the league pace of 11.5 set by Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis, and the NFC lead of 10 by St. Louis’ Robert Quinn.
“You know I’m behind, so I guess I’ve got to hop on the saddle and start riding a little bit,” Ware said.
Of course, now that Ware has rounded into shape, it’s starting defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden on the injury report. Hatcher has missed both practices this week with stinger issues of his own, while Hayden is battling rib issues.
With the issues they’ve already overcome, though, Ware said he’s got confidence in whoever lines up on what has now become a famous group of non-famous people (Marinelli’s Misfits).
“You know what? It’s the no-name defensive line,” Ware said with a smile. “We’ve got guys coming in that can play, and we have confidence in those guys to play. Hatcher and Nick will get out there and play and do the best that they can.”
IRVING, Texas — Since May 16, the Dallas Cowboys have signed, traded, acquired, put on injured reserve or released 28 defensive linemen. They saw another, Josh Brent, retire on July 18.
Everett Dawkins and Hall Davis are the latest additions. Dawkins was signed off the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad to the active roster, and Davis filled the final practice-squad vacancy.
There has been an incredible amount of movement on the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line. If you remember the Travis Chappelear era consider yourself fortunate.
Check out these transactions by date involving only the defensive line:
May 16 – Signed Anthony Hargrove
June 5 – Waived/injured Robert Callaway
June 11 – Signed Jeris Pendleton
June 20 – Cut Hargrove
June 25 – Signed Jerome Long
July 18 – Josh Brent retired
July 26 – Signed George Selvie and Landon Cohen
July 31 – Cut Ike Igbinosun, signed Toby Jackson
Aug. 1 – Waived/injured Cameron Sheffield
Aug. 6 – Waived Monte Taylor, signed Jabari Fletcher
Aug. 12 – Signed Travis Chappelear
Aug. 13 – Claimed Thaddeus Gibson
Aug. 19 – Waived Chappelear, Jackson
Aug. 21 – Signed Jason Vega
Aug. 26 – Cut Pendleton
Aug. 31 – Cut Fletcher, Gibson, Long, Vega; acquired Edgar Jones from Kansas City
Sept. 1 – Traded Sean Lissemore to San Diego
Sept. 2 – Signed Vega to practice squad
Sept. 3 – Acquired Caesar Rayford from Indianapolis
Sept. 5 – Chappelear waived off injured reserve
Sept. 7 – Placed Ben Bass on injured reserve; re-signed Long
Sept. 17 – Cut Cohen, signed David Carter
Sept. 24 – Cut Long, signed Drake Nevis
Sept. 25 – Placed Anthony Spencer on injured reserve
Oct. 15 – Cut Carter, Signed Jarius Wynn
Oct. 16 – Released Ratliff off reserve/PUP
Oct. 18 – Signed Vega off practice squad; placed Jones on IR to return list
Oct. 21 – Signed Marvin Austin
Oct. 29 – Released Vega; signed Everette Brown
Oct. 31 – Signed Vega to practice squad
Nov. 5 – Cut Austin
PERPLEXED IN THE METROPLEX: Jerry Jones frustrated because teammates could have used a healthy Jay Ratliff
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was cordial when initially asked about defensive tackle Jay Ratliff signing with the Chicago Bears two weeks after being cut by the Cowboys because he was too injured to play this season.
“We wish him the best,” Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM. “Sounds like we could be playing him when we meet the Bears.”
The Dallas Cowboys face the Bears Dec. 9 in Chicago. It appears that Ratliff will be ready to go by then after telling the Bears he needs a couple of weeks to get ready.
That he will be ready at all is what’s perplexing to Jones and the Cowboy after Ratliff missed all of training camp and the preseason recovering from a sports hernia surgery that his representatives said was much more serious than reported.
Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season. And when he still wasn’t ready to return and gave the Cowboys the understanding that he would not be ready to play at all this season, he was released.
Ratliff was cleared to play by his surgeon a week later and began soliciting offers from other teams, culminating with his signing with the Bears.
Jones chaffed when asked if he was fooled and misled by Ratliff.
“No one fooled anybody here,” Jones said. “We thought we had a good clear understanding of his injuries and what he thought about them. He was very articulate about that. It’s very unfortunate. We could use a healthy Jay Ratliff. His teammates could use a healthy Jay Ratliff. We were counting on him from the get go. It’s ironic we would end up playing him. That’s frustrating.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – Worked out on Monday, signed on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … so naturally Everette Brown had a big sack and forced fumble in the final seconds of Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
Now, Brown didn’t get a turnover, but the play was still a big play to help prevent Minnesota from driving deep in Dallas territory.
Brown, who said his focus was starting up a new Smoothie shop with his fiancée in Charlotte before the Cowboys called him last week, is the latest of several defensive linemen who have rolled through the organization this year.
In fact, if you’re scoring at home, Brown is the 16th defensive linemen to play a snap for the Dallas Cowboys this season. That doesn’t include Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Sean Lissemore, who once figured into the rotational plans for this D-line.
“Every week, it’s a new guy,” said Jason Hatcher, who has been the most consistent and the best lineman so far this year. “But I think they’re coming in and doing a great job of contributing right away. I give them credit and Rod (Marinelli) for getting them ready. They were big again today.”
One of the biggest plays of the game occurred from a trio of defensive linemen who might not have been in the NFL at all had it not been for the Cowboys giving them a shot.
Nick Hayden scored his first career touchdown by falling on a loose fumble in the end zone. George Selvie stripped the ball right before Jarius Wynn blasted Christian Ponder.
“I got him pretty good … it felt good, too,” Wynn said. “But it’s nice to come in here and help this team any way I can. I feel more comfortable now.”
Speaking of comfortable, Hayden looked right at home in the end zone after his first touchdown since his high school days.
Afterward, Hayden displayed what appeared to be a rather rehearsed dance.
“It was me rocking out,” Hayden said. “I just played the air-guitar and then smashed it at the end. It’s something we had talked about before for a sack dance. But I just used it today with my touchdown. I’ve got some other (dances), too, if I ever need them.”
While Hayden is far from the new guy anymore, he was also one of the players back in training camp just trying to revive his career.
“This group … we’re relentless,” Hayden said. “We’ve got new guys coming in each week, but they’ve been stepping up for us. It’s been great. We just try to learn from Coach Marinelli. He’s done a great job with us. We just keep playing for him.”
|George Selvie end zone strip and Nick Hayden recovery for TD replay||Locker room comments from Marinelli’s Misfits and Sean Lee|
|Watch Video | No Audio||Watch Video | Play Audio|
DALLAS COWBOYS RISING STAR: Marinelli Misfit George Selvie making a name for himself in Texas-2 Defense
IRVING, Texas – You know that half-a-sack George Selvie was credited with this past Sunday in Philadelphia, the one he shared with the just-arriving Jarius Wynn?
Well, upon further review, Selvie was credited with a full sack. That then officially gave him two sacks in the game.
In turn, that now gives him five sacks in seven games.
Let that sink in: George Selvie, now officially the leader of “Them Other Guys,” is second on the Dallas Cowboys in sacks, just one behind Jason Hatcher, who’s having a Pro Bowl start to this 2013 season.
Why, Selvie has one more sack than DeMarcus Ware, at this point likely to miss his second game in a row Sunday after having played in every one of the first 134 of his career.
Those five Selvie sacks, they would have been the third most on last year’s Dallas Cowboys team – for the entire season.
Five sacks. Until last year that total was just one less than Anthony Spencer’s career-high over his first five years in the NFL, and until this year one more than Hatcher’s previous seven-year career-high.
Five sacks. Just one less than the team’s previous high by a player not named DeMarcus Ware from 2009-2011, and just three less than what Greg Ellis and Bradie James posted in 2008.
And on July 25, three months to the day this Friday, with all 32 NFL training camps in full swing, this very guy, George Selvie, was sitting at home in Pensacola, Fla., out of work, having been released by Tampa Bay back on May 6.
He had just turned 26, released for the fourth time since he was a seventh-round pick in 2010 out of South Florida, and his mind was understandably beginning to wonder, “What do I do now? What do I do after football?”
Please don’t pinch the dude. Let him be.
Selvie, the guy who had never started even once over his 36-game NFL career the previous three seasons – drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2010, released on the final cuts of 2011, claimed by Carolina only to be released four weeks later, then signed by Jacksonville five weeks later, playing 16 games over two seasons with the Jaguars before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and signed a month later by Tampa Bay this offseason – now is tied for 12thin the NFL with those five sacks. He’s in the same company with the likes of Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, LaMarr Woodley and a half-sack behind Elvis Dumervil.
To further appreciate what Selvie has done so far this 2013 Dallas Cowboys season, a flashback to this summer is necessary, back to when the Dallas Cowboys called, more so out of necessity. Remember, the Cowboys lost Tyrone Crawford for the season the first practice of training camp (torn Achilles) with Spencer having his knee scoped about a week later.
They were simply looking for warm bodies at that time, defensive end types who were athletic, had high motors, could play the strong side, all with a decent amount of speed and … out of work. The list of candidates Will McClay’s pro scouting department had handy kicked out one George Selvie.
“I was coming to training camp like, they probably just think of me as a [camp] body,” said Selvie during his interview this week that can be heard in its entirety on the Jason Garrett Show, locally at 11 p.m. Saturday on CBS-11. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
Understand, camp body is a derogatory term, meaning a guy simply needed to fill out the 80-man roster and help facilitate training camp practices at minimum wage then discarded before the final 53 is assembled. The percentages are against these guys, especially coming into camp a week late, with no OTA practices or minicamps under their belt.
And in Selvie’s mind on his way to the West Coast, this just might be his last call.
“I’m going to go out here and try to prove myself,” he said of his thinking when getting the call and traveling all the way from Pensacola that same day to Oxnard, Calif., jumping into practice the very next day. And stuff just fell in place.
“I was blessed to be in the situation I’m in now, just fell in place for me – but I am where I am.”
Fell in place? More like crashed down in place. Ten days after arriving in Oxnard, Selvie demonstrated he was more than a camp body in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game, recording five tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and two tackles for losses against Miami.
Come on, was this for real or one of those one-time wonders?
Judging from emails and phone calls to Talkin’ Cowboys, fans would have just as soon left Selvie in Canton, Ohio, to be measured for his yellow jacket. There actually were questions about the possibility of trading Spencer. Just let Selvie take his place and grab $10.6 million in cap relief.
So there we were, on the tennis courts at training camp, interviewing Selvie on Talkin’ Cowboys, letting him know of his new-found celebrity, but quickly finding out, as Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett likes to say, he is the right kind of guy.
“It’s just been crazy,” he said at the time, “because Twitter and stuff. I was like, got my phone, ‘I don’t want no part of that.’ I got a lot to do, you know what I’m sayin’, I got a lot to do.
“People are like, ‘Great start …’ but I still got … look I know the feeling.”
And he then began earning his eventual nickname coined by defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who Selvie readily credits for much of his success: Bricklayer. You know, come to work every day, work hard and lay those bricks down one at a time.
And yes, things fell in place. Obviously, Crawford was done for the season. Spencer was on his way to being done for the season. Ben Bass, a guy who could play defensive tackle, defensive end, was headed for injured reserve, too. Suddenly, he looked up one day and basically when it came to defensive ends, it was DeMarcus Ware, Kyle Wilber and … George Selvie.
Man, after never starting in any of those first 36 games he played in the NFL, there he was, under the glare of Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium, starting. Starting, mind you, for the first time in his career, no more than six weeks removed from wondering just what he would be doing for the rest of his life.
Nearly two months later and now Selvie is a fixture in the Dallas Cowboys lineup, having started all seven games and now standing second on the team in sacks, tied for second in tackles for losses (3) and third in quarterback pressures (11) behind some guys named Ware and Hatcher.
Meteoric rise would be an understatement, and not likely in his wildest dreams …
“No, I couldn’t have imagined it,” says Selvie when thinking back to those lonely moments in Pensacola, having trudged back home after Tampa Bay released him to contemplate his future.
“But this is the best football I’ve played, the stats show those are the facts, and I’ve had the opportunity to go out there and play, rush the passers, actually get out there on the field. I never had that [opportunity] in the past, but now I do.”
And aren’t the Dallas Cowboys darn glad he does, too.
So don’t even think about it, no pinching allowed.
George Selvie 1-on-1 interview with Mickey Spagnola (3:10)
Mickey Spagnola sits down for a 1-on-1 interview with Dallas Cowboys DE George Selvie.
NO SHAME IN NO-NAME: Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense holds NFL’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone
PHILADELPHIA – With his game-sealing pick, Brandon Carr waved goodbye to the departing Eagles’ crowd and the shared division lead all at once.
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, including a horde of “no-name” linemen who were forced into action with DeMarcus Ware out, held the league’s top rusher in check and forced three interceptions against the Eagles as they soared past Philadelphia for sole possession of first place in the division with a 17-3 win.
Just two weeks removed from the 51-points yielded to the Broncos, the Cowboys have allowed just 19 combined points their last two weeks to the Redskins and Eagles. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin believes seeing less can be a good thing and contributed to those performances.
“When you become a good defense, you play fast and you know what you’re doing,” Kiffin said. “Like I say, see a little or see a lot. When you see a lot, you see nothing, and we were seeing a lot earlier in the year. When you just see a little bit and you read your keys, you’ve got a chance.”
The defense gave the Cowboys more than just a chance. They solidified the win by holding the league’s third-ranked offense out of the end zone entirely.
“It’s very encouraging to see our defense play as well as it played today and fundamentally that was the plan from the word, ‘Go,’” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “We played well. There wasn’t a lot of confusion out there.”
The victory moved the Cowboys to 3-0 in the NFC East for the first time since 2007 and marked their first road win of the season. They did it all without their all-time sack leader, who missed the first game of his career with a thigh injury.
With Ware battered up, the Dallas Cowboys needed all the help they could get on a defensive line comprised of players no one would recognize before the season began, outside of Jason Hatcher. The Cowboys signed defensive end Jarius Wynn this week and made him active. They brought up defensive end Jason Vega from the practice squad and made him active, as well.
The line already featured a defensive tackle in Drake Nevis who was signed just weeks prior, and a defensive end in Caesar Rayford who came to the team after the preseason.
At least on Sunday, none of that mattered, thanks in large part to tremendous coverage on the back end that allowed consistent pressure from the front four.
“It’s what football’s about,” said defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. “At the end of the day, it’s still a blue collar game. The men who want to go out and work, fight, compete get opportunities.”
The Cowboys bothered Nick Foles all day, led by a player who joined the team in training camp. George Selvie finished with 1.5 sacks to notch the first multi-sack game of his career. He shared a sack with Wynn on the last play of the third quarter, which knocked Foles out of the game.
Hatcher also added a sack in his dominant start to the year, giving him six now for the season. He said he didn’t even think the defense played as well as it should, yet the Cowboys still held the Eagles to three points. Hatcher credited Marinelli for having the ability to plug and play new people the last couple weeks without any ill effects.
“He cares about you, unlike some coaches that just care about their job, he cares about you as an individual,” Hatcher said. “He’s an awesome guy to play for.”
It helped that Foles was wildly inaccurate, completing just 11-of-29 passes for the Eagles before going down. It only got worse for Philadelphia’s offense later, as Matt Barkley came in and threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter, with Sean Lee, Barry Church and Carr all securing one apiece.
Carr’s pick sealed the deal, and the corner was stellar throughout, giving DeSean Jackson fits on the outside. He helped to hold the speed threat to just three catches and 21 receiving yards on eight targets, and he finished with an interception, two passes defended and a tackle for loss.
“Me and Orlando (Scandrick) had the task of following him around the field,” Carr said. “It’s just one of those matchups where you’ve got to stay on him for 60 minutes. A guy with that speed, it’s easy for him to slip past you. You don’t want to be in a foot race with him.”
Perhaps even more impressive was what the defense did to the Eagles’ other primary playmaker, LeSean McCoy, who led all NFL running backs by 99 rushing yards entering the game. McCoy averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, running 18 times for 55 yards, and averaged 4.3 yards per catch Sunday.
It wasn’t always pretty football for either team. The vaunted Eagles offense was forced to punt nine times after going 4-for-18 on third down. The Cowboys also punted nine times but took advantage when they moved down the field, scoring both times they got inside the 20. The Eagles went 0-for-2 in red zone efficiency.
Despite scoring just 17 points, the Cowboys’ offense still included three players with at least six catches and 50 yards apiece. Dez Bryant led all players with eight catches for 110 yards and had a game-high 16 targets.
There were major contributions from Terrance Williams, whose fourth-quarter touchdown reception gave the Cowboys a 14-point lead and marked the rookie receiver’s third straight game with a touchdown, and Cole Beasley, who was a mismatch once again in the slot with six catches for 53 yards.
Rookie running back Joseph Randle got his first start of his career, rushing for 65 yards on 19 carries and catching three passes for 28 yards. Phillip Tanner went in at the goal line to bowl in for the Cowboys’ only rushing touchdown and first score of the game.
That touchdown by Tanner in the third quarter alone would have been enough to win the game on a day where the Dallas defense dominated to put the Cowboys atop the division. Still, Hatcher isn’t yet satisfied.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hatcher said. “We didn’t play as well as we should tonight, but we held them to three. It’s kind of scary when you look at it. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”
The Dallas Cowboys put Ben Bass on injured reserve moments ago.
He suffered a dislocated shoulder in practice on Thursday, and coach Jason Garrett initially said the team did not believe it was season-ending.
But a separated shoulder, if it requires surgery, can mean six months of recovery.
Bass is the second Cowboys defensive end lost for the season. They lost Tyrone Crawford to an Achilles injury in the first practice of training camp. Since then, they have placed defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks.
The Dallas Cowboys acquired two defensive ends in the past week. Edgar Jones of Kansas City and Caesar Rayford of Indianapolis. Additionally, they will bring back defensive end Jerome Long (article below), who was released at the end of training camp.
RELATED: Reinforcements coming. Dallas Cowboys bring back Jerome Long
The Dallas Cowboys will bring back Jerome Long for defensive line help this week, and veteran Jason Hatcher is looking forward to it.
The Cowboys can use reinforcements with another injury this week, following a shoulder separation for Ben Bass.
“Yeah, you really don’t think about getting tired, for the most part. You’re just trying to get to the football,” Hatcher said. “It’s going to be a very tough for me, but I’m built for it. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve just got to go out there and take it one snap at a time. When I get tired, I trust the guys who are coming in that they’re going to do the job just like I left.”
Hatcher said Long was a solid contributor in training camp, and that Landon Cohen, who made the team, will also help.
“He understands the scheme better than anybody,” Hatcher said of Long. “He’s just one of those guys who got caught up in the numbers game. I thought he did a great job. … He can come in and spare me a lot. And you’ve got Cohen. He can play 3-technique and nose tackle. So we’re really not worried about the game at all.”
Long was a seventh-round pick of Kansas City in 2012 who spent the year with the Chiefs on the practice squad, was signed by Jacksonville at the end of the season and released in April. The Cowboys signed him in June and brought him to training camp.
Hatcher said defensive line depth matters in the NFL these days.
“It’s called red ball. They just attack you,” Hatcher said of today’s NFL offenses after he watched the Thursday night game between Denver and Baltimore. “If they know you’re a good defense and you can really get to the quarterback, they try to wear you down early in the game so you won’t have nothing left in the fourth quarter. So we’ve got to do a good job of just rotating guys, and we’ll be OK.”
The Dallas Cowboys expect to have all available hands on deck among their defensive linemen Sunday.
“Injures are a part of this league, and it’s just the nature of this league,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday morning. “You put the next guy in, and you go forward, and that’s what the situation is. That’s the mindset we have as an organization, as a coaching staff and as players. You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do. And that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league. We have those examples on this football team so there are things you can point to and that’s the mindset you have.”
Starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games while recovering from a groin injury. Starting defensive end Anthony Spencer is not on the practice field again today (Friday) and may not play Sunday. Spencer has not practiced since undergoing right knee surgery July 25 and said Thursday he had a setback in his rehab over the weekend.
The Cowboys then added reserve defensive tackle Ben Bass to the injury list Thursday when he dislocated his shoulder in practice. Bass, who is in a sling, will miss at least this week, leaving the Cowboys with preseason standout Landon Cohen behind Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden at defensive tackle.
They will have to have some position flex with their defensive ends. George Selvie is expected to start in place of Spencer, with DeMarcus Ware at his usual spot. The Cowboys traded for ends Caesar Rayford and Edgar Jones in recent days. They also have second-year veteran Kyle Wilber.
“You just kind of work with the guys we have,” Garrett said. “We’re excited about the group we have. You’d like to have them together for longer, but that’s the nature of this league. You’ve just got to make do with what you have and go forward. Excited to see those guys play and take advantage of their opportunity.”
RELATED: Cowboys confident with DE depth, even if Spencer can’t go
IRVING, Texas – It’s looking more and more like the Cowboys won’t feature Anthony Spencer in their lineup on Sunday against the Giants, despite claims to the contrary.
Spencer spoke to the media yesterday (Thursday) following the Cowboys’ afternoon practice. The hope all week, according to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, has been to have Spencer work gradually back into practice.
Spencer said he suffered a minor setback this past weekend, when his knee, which he had surgery on about a month ago, reacted negatively to a light workout.
“That’s what happened this weekend, like I was doing a little bit of running and whatnot, and it kind of just swelled up on me,” he said. “It’s hard for me to do anything once that happens, so we try to just minimize that as much as possible.”
The Cowboys hope to see Spencer go through at least part of practice today, but it looks increasingly likely they won’t have their Pro Bowler on the defensive line Sunday night.
From asking around the locker room, that doesn’t sound too concerning. Injuries are nothing new on the Cowboys’ defensive line, as injuries have sidelined Spencer and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff throughout training camp. In their absence, young George Selvie, Nick Hayden, and Landon Cohen have stepped into the void.
Cohen (photo above) and Selvie (photo below) were two of the first players to join the team during training camp, once the injuries to Ratliff and Spencer became known. Through several dozen other roster moves, Garrett said neither lineman has given the Cowboys a reason to cut them.
“Each of them have shown up. You’ve heard me say it a lot,” Garrett said. “They show up in practice, they show up in the preseason games, every opportunity we give them, each of those guys said ‘Hey, I’m worthy of making this football team,’ and that’s good for your team.”
That effort hasn’t gone unnoticed with the defense’s elder statesman, either.
“You’ve got guys practicing in 105-degree weather, being effective against our offense – a high-powered offense,” said defensive end DeMarcus Ware. “They’ve been playing really, really well, so I have a lot of confidence in those guys to come in and fill the shoes of Jay and Spencer, if Spencer doesn’t play. We’ve got to be effective with what we have.”
Plenty of the focus is going to fall on Selvie, who has turned Spencer’s injury into a starting spot in the last six weeks. In four preseason games at left defensive end, he notched six tackles with three sacks.
“When you have a guy that’s coming in off the couch – we call him the brick layer,” Ware said. “He comes in and it’s a brick at a time, being effective. He’s built a pretty nice little house over there at left end.”
Selvie’s not a stranger to the regular season, with 36 career games under his belt in three seasons. But the combination of learning from two Pro Bowlers has been something he said he’s used to improve considerably.
“Spencer is always giving tips – ‘Angle this way. Do this and do that,’” he said. “Any time you’ve got the Defensive MVP of this team helping you, it’s a good thing. D-Ware is always helping me too.”
Adding into that pass rush is new acquisition Caesar Rayford, who said Wednesday he’s ready to play. As has been widely noted, Rayford’s five sacks led the NFL during the preseason.
It’s all enough to give Ware confidence in the defensive line – regardless of who’s starting. Ware said he’d like to see Spencer on the field if it’s at all possible, but he’s not concerned about the Cowboys’ options up front.
“You know, I’m not worried about it at all. I don’t want to see Spence out there on the field, I want to see Spencer. I want the 100 percent Spencer,” Ware said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play this week, I just – I don’t know — I hope he does. I want the guy out there, and that goes for everybody else, too.”
RELATED: Garrett doesn’t believe Ben Bass injury is season-ending
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he does not know how long defensive end Ben Bass will be out while he recovers from a separated shoulder, but that the team does not believe it is season-ending.
“We have a pretty good feel for what he has,” Garrett said, “but the nature of that injury is that he dislocated his shoulder, so the question I asked is, ‘OK, what does that mean?’ Well, if he gets it relocated and there’s no damage, he can be back in a few days. If there’s a little damage in there as a result of it, can be a couple three weeks. So we’ll see.”
Garrett said, “We don’t think it’s season-ending by any means, but it might be a week, a couple of weeks. We’ll just see how it goes.”
Missing starters Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer and backup Tyrone Crawford. Ratliff is gone for at least six weeks while he begins the season on the PUP list. Crawford is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury. Spencer’s could be next week, but that is not certain.
“You hear me say this a lot, but injuries provide opportunities, and there are some great stories of someone getting hurt, somebody stepping in and showing what they can do, and that guy has a role on your team, becomes a starter on the team and becomes a great player in this league,” Garrett said. “We have those examples on this football team. So there are things you can point to, and that’s the mindset you have.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys newcomer Caesar Rayford ready for Sunday
Caesar Rayford was just happy to be here earlier this week after arriving from Indianapolis via a trade, but he better be ready to play at defensive tackle.
With eight healthy bodies in the defensive line — three at DT — the Cowboys are counting on Rayford to take some snaps come Sunday. It doesn’t matter that he arrived here only Tuesday. It doesn’t matter that his natural position is at DE.
“He has to be viable for us at some point in this ball game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Rayford, an outside linebacker in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme, had a league-leading five sacks in the preseason.
“I feel like I’ve made plays, but I’m always about the next game, the next day,” Rayford said. “I made plays in the preseason, but the preseason is over, and now it’s the next game. I’ve got to keep it going, keep it consistent and just at it.”
Rayford, played in the Canadian and the Arena Football Leagues before getting his chance in the NFL with the Colts. Now, he’s with the Dallas Cowboys.
“The way I describe my journey is some people get in the front door; some people get in the back door; but guys like me have got to climb the house and jump in the chimney,” Rayford said. “That’s been basically my journey. It’s been long and hard. I’ve stayed the course, and now I’m here.”
OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys are bringing in two defensive linemen to make up for their lack of depth after injuries at the position.
They’ll take a look at defensive end George Selvie, a former South Florida defender who’s made stops in the NFL in St. Louis, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay since 2010, and veteran defensive lineman Landon Cohen, who’s played in 25 games throughout his career.
Selvie spent a month in Tampa Bay after signing with the Buccaneers in April of this year before getting released. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Rams in 2010, playing in all 16 games for St. Louis his rookie season. He was waived in September 2011 and then spent time with Carolina and Jacksonville in 2011-2012.
The defensive lineman played in 11 games in 2011, including four with Carolina and seven with Jacksonville. He stayed with the Jaguars in 2012, playing in nine games that season.
Cohen’s bounced around the league since getting drafted out of Ohio in the seventh round in 2008. He played in Detroit in 2008-09, suiting up for 20 games during that time. He spent time with Jacksonville, New England, Seattle, Arizona and Philadelphia since then, suiting up for two games with the Jaguars and three with the Patriots.
After adding three players to start training camp in quarterback Alex Tanney, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and tackle Demetress Bell, the team has one spot open on the 90-man roster. Tanney was the only one of those three to pass his conditioning test when arriving in California.
The Cowboys need help and depth at defensive line after losing Tyrone Crawford for the season on the first full day of training camp practices Sunday when the former third-round pick tore his Achilles tendon.
Crawford was a backup player expected to play an increased role, but it’s not just the backups who are hurting on the defensive line. Starter Anthony Spencer also sat out of practices early in training camp with a bone bruise on his knee, and he’s slated to have surgery that will keep him out two to four weeks.
Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is also not participating in practice after hurting his hamstring during the conditioning drills, while defensive lineman Ikponmwosa Igbinosun sat out Tuesday with his foot in a boot.